Halfway Good at A Lot of Things- Pt. 1

                             A series I did for my sister's birthday

Art.  Let’s talk about it for a bit.

One of the best things about the world and technology and the grand internets is that art is exploding, everywhere.  If you have an idea and a smartphone, your art can meet the glory of YouTube in about ten seconds.  

It’s awesome.  

Suddenly, brilliant artists in the middle of nowhere who have no label backing them can pop out a killer Gotye cover.  Suddenly, strange recipes for coffee and bacon sandwiches find their way to fellow foodies whose lives just wouldn’t be the same without caffeinated breakfast foods for dinnertime awesomeness.  (I heart Joy the Baker.  Follow her now.)  Suddenly, Banksy  and Leonid Afremov share equal space in my art inspiration days.  

But… 

(there’s always a but in there somewhere, isn’t there?) 

The internet also lets you hide pretty well. I know. I do it all the time.  Direct, real-life criticism can get brushed aside as being the rantings of a hater. There’s not always community built around art anymore.  It becomes about page views and self-indulgence. (I’m totally guilty here, don’t get me wrong.) You can ignore the critics because they’re words on a screen rather than honest thoughts from a friend sitting across the table from you. 

And that’s the quickest way to artistic apathy. And then death. 

It’s one thing to blog a story.  It’s a whole different game to type it up and hand it to friends and mentors for face-to-face notes.  It’s one thing to paint and then hide it away.  I just do this for me.   It’s another (infinitely more terrifying) thing to show your paintings at a local art night.  It means you have to watch the faces of your audience as they hate it.  Or maybe love it. But you’re there for their unfiltered reactions either way.  

And, you guys!  It’s scary!  I know that. I know all those questions rattling around in your head. 

What if you don’t like my heart?  Or my voice? Or my color choices? Or my words?  

What if you don’t like me?

  • First thing’s first – separate you from your art.  

Not entirely, because without your own experiences, how can you create anything?  Person you makes artist you a possibility.  Own it. Love it. Fight for it. But you have value and purpose in this crazy world because you are a person, not because you are an artist.  So don’t take it all personally when someone says your art could be better.  It probably could be. Don’t freak out.  Make it better! 

  • And…. second thing – you have to take the risk!!! 

Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Art by its very nature is meant to be shared (it’s like a good cup of coffee that way!)  Critiqued.  Loved.  Hated.  When we share our art, we learn to be better artists. (There’s a parallel here to being better humans too, but I’ll leave that for another blog.)   Get embarrassed every so often.  As you grow artistically, it’s going to happen less and less. 

You invite others in to your art.  Into your story.  Be open to it.  Share.  Early and often. It’s why I blog.  It’s why I tweet links to my posts – I want people I know and love to comment and critique and help me shape my words into their best possible forms. It makes me a better writer.  

  • Final thing — listen

Let’s just be real.  Not every person is good at every kind of art.  And that sucks!  I wish everyone was perfect at every type of art.  I mean, how cool would that be?  But there’s a reason I am not a storyboard artist.  There is a reason I don’t knit.  There is a reason I don’t play the drums.  (I draw stick figures, I can’t knit to save my life, despite Jess and Lauren’s best attempts, and I hate the thought of people listening to me for their timing and beat.  *Shivers* Anyway…)   

Don’t be afraid to focus on what you’re actually good at.  This a theme that has come up a couple times in my blogs – but you don’t have to be everything to everyone.  If you can’t sing a note, don’t pursue a career as the next Josh Groban or Kenny Chesney or Tori Amos. You’re just going to end up years down the road, disappointed and still no closer to what you’re actually supposed to do.  Don’t put that stuff on YouTube.  For reals.  That’s the kind of stuff that comes back to haunt you later.  And who needs that?

Because maybe it’s going to turn out that you are AMAZING at baking, and the world needs your brand and flavor of wedding cakes.  Or maybe you can grow the most amazing vegetables (in which case you are my new best friend and I want you to come over to my kitchen immediately.  With fresh tomatoes, if possible.)  Maybe you’re the next Van Gogh while you’re trying to be the next Van Johnson (look him up, people. Look him up.) 

I can be halfway good at a lot of things.  I sort of play guitar.  I pretend that I’m a decent sketch artist.  I have great fashion sense, but it’s not like I’m the next Vera Wang. I’m terrible at gardening. I’m lucky if I keep a bouquet alive for a week.  And I could just stick around in this halfway point forever.   

It would be easy to duck my fears of not being enough at the things I love – music. writing. baking. painting – by living in the things that I only like.  

And that is exactly what makes bad art.  

Go be excellent at your art. Go be excellent at being you.  Because – and I’m saying this maybe not even knowing you – you are awesome.  You are amazing at being you.  You are your own brand of artist.  Find it. Love it. Develop it.  It’s going to be brutally hard. 

The rest of us crazy creative types are running alongside. 

And cheering. 

I want to dig in deeper this week…   More coming this weekend!  

xoxo

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That I May Never Be Comfortable

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. 

– A Franciscan Benediction


We read this at Basileia every so often, and I LOVE it.  Just wanted to share… 

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Why You Are My Perfect Friend

                              kicking my feet up on the dashboard of life

I wish I was more like her.  I wish I was that outgoing.  I wish I had her success. Her talent.  Her joy.  Her hair.  I wish I looked like she does.  I wish I could do what she does. I wish I was her. 

It’s hard to be an LA girl.  Really really.  

Once you get past the everlasting sun and 80 degrees in February and the crazy creative city… oh wait.  That’s right.  I really love it here. *happy moment* 

But really.  It is hard to be an LA girl some of the time.  Maybe it’s just hard to be a girl sometimes in general.  See – for whatever reason – we have this tendency to compare ourselves to EVERY OTHER GIRL on the planet, and we never seem to personally measure up.  

One of my best friends has this amazing voice and amazing stage presence – the girl was made to be a performer.  She’s one of the most brilliant, take-no-BS-from-anyone people I’ve ever met, and I’m totally envious.  Another one of my best friends is a model.  She’s gorgeous and blonde and teaches college courses when she’s not in the middle of running marathons.  (You think I’m making this up, and I’m not….)   Another dear friend of mine is SUPER-MOM, and I mean it.  I’m terrified of ever having one kid, and when I see her with all three of hers, I’m like, “Oh, that looks awesome.  And easy. And so fun.  I could totally do that!”  And there’s other awesome friends of mine who work in politics, who live across the world saving babies, who are amazing actresses, who have raised brilliant children while moving across the country multiple times, who have really beautiful homes, who are better at math and logic and enjoying the quiet, who are so much better at sports… and it goes on and on and on. 

And how easy it would be to look around and come to the immediate conclusion that I will NEVER be enough.  There will always be someone better. Someone smarter, prettier, taller, whatever.  

But I realized something the other day: 

My friends are all of these different things so I don’t have to be. 

And that was incredibly freeing and beautiful. The world does not need (or want) a million of me.  It’s just a true thing.  The world is so much of a better place because we all have our different voices and different giftings and different things we’re just good at, different things we all love. 

And we don’t have to be everything for everyone.  

I will probably never run a marathon, but I can make an awesome bowl of carbo-loading pasta for my I-use-my-oven-for-storage runner friends.  (Current obsession?  Roasted garlic with white wine, shallots and nutmeg over quinoa pasta. Come over any time.)   I’m a singer, but I need a guitarist and a drummer, otherwise I’m just the girl standing awkwardly in the corner singing at the top of my lungs.  Enter my amazing musician friends who just happen to be good at the things I’m not.  Instant band!  

I don’t have to be perfect at everything, and thank God.  It gives me so much more time to celebrate the brilliance of everyone around me.  We each have our part to play in life, our specific arena we get to give our entire heart and soul to.  We each bring a puzzle piece to the table, and when they’re all connected, it’s so much more unbelievably beautiful than we ever could have imagined.  It means that we don’t have to strive to be it all.  We can rest in who we are, in who we were created to be.  We can kick our feet up on the dashboard as we fly down the road together, celebrating who we all are individually… and who we become together.

We are the melodies and harmonies to each other’s lives.  

Now if I can just remember that every single day… 


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A Rainy LA Day

                           

It’s a cold and rainy day here in Los Angeles, where memories of a hot sun and breezy “winter” winds of 70 degrees (i.e. the reasons we all moved here) have been relegated to, well, a memory.  

I love days like this, days where the weather is cold and bleary and you just crave comfort food.  (Olive oil and wine grilled mushrooms and asparagus?  Yes please. Just back the truck up to my office and keep ‘em coming.)  I want to curl up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate or blueberry tea (my latest obsession… thank you Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry*).  I want to run outside and play in the rain like my mom always told me not to do. (Hi Mom! I’d like to point out again that yes, I had vegetables for lunch, and no, I am definitely not going to have Pinkberry for dinner. Of course not.) 

And I think it’s all in the way you look at the rain.  It can either be a sad, cold day (see: the sad-panda looking palm tree) or a slow, dreamy, watercolor-toned day of enjoying the clean air and the scent of rain-washed streets (see: the rest of the photo).  I for one like the slow, dreamy kind of day.  But maybe that’s because it reminds me of Seattle, and today I miss my sister. 

I have lots of new blogs coming – about inspiration and movies and amazing books I’ve read and blogs I’m newly hooked on and the war of choosing the right words for the right phrase in the right script and Season 5 of Eureka starting Monday** and more – but today, I just want to stop for a moment and watch the rain fall down the windowpane.  It’s been forever since I’ve heard thunder in Los Angeles.  I should probably stop and appreciate it, you know?  

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming.  

*Celestial Seasonings was not a sponsor of this post.  Though they should be.

** Mondays on Syfy beginning April 16th.  Be there.  It’s awesome. For reals. 

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The First Day of the Rest of My Life


That’s it.  I will never recover.  Everything I’ve ever hoped for or wished for – gone!  Down the drain!  Goodbye, lovely dreams!  Hello, cruel world…


(So my inner monologue occasionally swings to the dramatic side of things.  Blog confession of the day.  So there.) 

Have you ever had a moment like that?  You put all your chips on the table, dreaming of some future with… all your chips back in hand, I guess?  Or everyone else’s chips in your hands too?  There are lots of chips involved.  Anyway… You play the game, and slip up somewhere.  The bell rings.  You lose. 

Now what?

It’s so tempting to imagine that today’s masterful stroke of failure (not specifically today… just any day in general) is going to completely define the rest of my life.  But you know what?  Today is not forever.  Every single day I get to wake up and go for it again.  And if I’m  going to write, if you’re going to make a living in any sort of creative industry, I’m  gonna lose all my chips quite often.  That’s just how the machine works. 

But every day, I get to start over.  

And in that starting over, there are days I start heading for a pretty sweet future.  Not all is lost. Thank God he’s so full of grace.  Pretty sure I’d be dead otherwise.  But there’s something beautifully forgiving and hopeful in that new start every single day. 

That’s a life I can live with… today’s always going to be the first day of the rest of my life.  And what a crazy life it’s shaping up to be…  

There’s some good stuff in the pipeline I’m really excited to be able to share soon. Stay tuned… 

Now, where to go from here?  Oh, the adventure of it all.. 

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*I have to thank the great Steve Martin for starting today’s train of thought.  And for his awesome tweets that make me laugh every day.  Follow him. Seriously. 

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